Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Speedlights and Speedlites

This book as you can guess, is about off camera flash, and its designed for users of Canon and Nikon flash systems with colour coding of the text to distinguish the two. I bought the book on the strength of the sample chapter, which looked quite interesting especially the example, which looked like it had a little more depth. I wasn't expecting to get much out of the Canon and Nikon sections because thats not my thing but I thought that there would be information that could be transferred.

I've struggled for a while thinking about how I was going to review this book. Because quite frankly I didn't like it. One of my weaknesses is that I am quite quick to find fault and not very good at that praise thing. So I put off the review thinking that maybe I should give it another read. I wouldn't have been the first reviewer to re-read the book, I found one who managed to praise the book, but admitted having to read it twice before he actually understood it.

It doesn't help that the book gets off to a bad start. The very first example shot in chapter one, of the rubber duck in the sink, prompts you to see the lighting diagram on page 197, but when you scoot to the end of the book, its not there. So you work your way back through the examples expecting to find it at the beginning of the diagram section and its not there either. So you look through all the diagrams and find it eventually on page 199.

Its bad enough the the diagrams don't accompany the examples on the same page, but to get the page numbering wrong is doubly annoying. While we are on the topic of example photos, they very rarely have anything to do with the text, so in effect they are a bit of a distraction. The book is full of little sidebars like the A-Z sections in yellow, which are not in any apparent alphabetical order and are just random photographic facts often not even related to flash photography.

There is very little structure in the book. For example there are only two chapters. Chapter one is One Light and chapter two is Two Lights. All the information about lighting that you might reasonably expect to cross-over the two chapters is shoe-horned into one or the other. So you learn about TTL in Chapter One and Wireless in Chapter Two and rather oddly on-camera flash brackets in Chapter Two.

The Canon and Nikon specific sections appeared to cover the sort of information that you might expect to see, but to be honest its was over my head because I shoot Sony and only use manual flash on radio triggers. However there was one thing that was notable in its absence. There were no photographs of the flash menu systems. It was all done with text. This may or may not be significant for you.

So there I go again being negative again. So now I'm going to have to try and balance this. What is good about the book? First of all, it does cover a lot of ground. If you aren't bothered by the lack of structure, then there's a lot there for the beginner but you would have read it a few times for it to sink in. Alternatively just go out and buy one of Joe McNally's books and read the manual for your flash

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